Herniated discs result in a painful condition which can lead to a variety of complications including muscle weakness, spasms, and numbness.
Although herniated discs are quite common, there is a lot of misinformation about how they occur and what the best course of treatment may be.
In this guide, our Fareham chiropractor shares some details about this condition including the most common causes of herniated discs. They’ll also explain how a visit to the Homewood Chiropractic Clinic can help patients with a herniated disc.
What Is A Herniated Disc? Our Fareham Chiropractor Explains
The human spine is made up of a stack of 24 movable bones called vertebrae. With the exception of the first two vertebrae in the neck, there is an Intervertebral disc separating each vertebrae bone.
Intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers and prevent the vertebrae bones from hitting one another. They also give the spine additional structure, support, and flexibility.
Each disc is made up of the Annulus Fibrosus, a tough and rubbery outer layer, along with the Nucleus Pulposus, which is the soft, gelatine-like inner centre of the disc.
A herniated disc, also known as a bulging disc or slipped disc, occurs when the outer layer of an intervertebral disc cracks open, allowing the nucleus pulposus to push out.
The exposed nucleus pulposus can press on spinal nerves, causing a variety of symptoms including:
- Radiating pain or ‘electric shock’ pain
- Tingling and numbness
- Muscle weakness
- Bladder or bowel problems
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a medical practitioner or chiropractor immediately. The problem may worsen over time and eventually cause permanent nerve damage.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Herniated Discs?
#1 – Wear and Tear
Daily wear and tear on the spine can cause intervertebral discs to deteriorate over time. The degenerated discs can sometimes develop cracks in their outer surface, allowing disc herniation to occur. Medical professionals refer to the age-related deterioration of spinal discs as degenerative disc disease.
#2 – Injury
An accident that involves a forceful sudden movement or collision can cause a herniated disc. This could be a car accident, a fall from a ladder, or simply slipping in the bathroom. The risk of a herniated disc occurring after an accident is higher in older people, as they may already be suffering from disc degeneration.
#3 – Repetitive Motions and Lifting
Lifting heavy objects or lifting with poor technique can place excessive strain on the spine, causing an intervertebral disc to slip out of place or rupture. Performing repetitive tasks which involve lifting, twisting or bending can also increase the risk of a herniated disc. Read this guide to learn more about lifting objects safely.
#4 – Obesity
If you are overweight, more pressure will be placed upon the spine and its intervertebral discs. This increase the risk of a herniated disc.
#5 – Sedentary Lifestyle
Individuals who spend most of their time sitting have a greater risk of disc degeneration, which often leads to disc herniation. Fortunately, regular exercise can be used to offset any health risks associated with being sedentary.
There are several other factors which can increase the risk of a herniated disc occurring. They include:
- Hereditary tendency (several family members have suffered from herniated discs)
- Smoking (nicotine restricts blood flow to spinal discs, worsening disc degeneration)
- Frequent driving (many hours sitting negatively impacts disc health)
How Visiting Our Fareham Chiropractors Can Help
When you first visit Homewood Chiropractic Clinic, your chiropractor will take a full medical history and discuss the symptoms you have been experiencing.
Afterwards, your chiropractor will perform a complete physical examination, along with orthopaedic and neurological tests. This process is designed to confirm that you have a herniated disc and to determine its location.
We will be very interested in determining if your reflexes are intact, as this helps us understand how much the disc may be compressing spinal nerves. Other signs that we look for include a loss of muscle strength, muscle wasting, and a sensation (pain or tingling) that follows the path of the affected nerve.
Your chiropractor will also assess your posture and may recommend that a scan be performed to determine the precise location of a compressed nerve.
Our chiropractors take a holistic approach, considering the overall health of your spine. Even if the problem is affecting the lower region of your back, we will look at the entire spine to get a complete picture of what is going on.
Once your chiropractor has a strong understanding of your spinal health, they will move onto the treatment phase. This can involve a combination of spinal manipulation, therapeutic exercises, and lifestyle changes.
It’s important to understand that some patients may not be able to have chiropractic care. If you are suffering from caudal equine syndrome (where nerve compression is very severe and causing incontinence) — you will need immediate medical care. We can refer you to a doctor if necessary.
You can learn more about what to expect when you visit Homewood Chiropractic here.
If you would like to book an appointment with one of our chiropractic team, you can call our clinic on 01329 280 283 or book online on our website here.